When you are living in a moment of change it’s easy to feel uncertain as you pass the point of no return. Yet, look back at any period in history and the way things were done then will most have certainly changed to some degree in relation to how they are done now.
Even though we might not always realise it at the time, we are constantly in a state of evolution. Business is no different, especially as both technology and world events have seen our communication strategies subject to constant change not least in recent months.
All of this naturally turns our attention to what the future of communication for businesses will look like. Spoiler alert: Things are set to look a little differently from now on.
More Remote Working
While the office has always been considered the hub of any business, the reality is that many tasks can be completed anywhere so long as there is an internet connection and access to internal drives or team software. What’s more, remote working as a whole has increased by 159% in the last 12 years, a figure that will no doubt have skyrocketed in recent months too.
But could embracing remote working be advantageous to businesses? Stacey at Nationwide Courier Service, a same day courier expert, certainly thinks so, commenting: “The beauty of remote working is that it removes the geographical restriction we otherwise would have faced with sourcing talent. Now we can hire the best developers and designers regardless of where they are based.”
The benefits extend to your employees too, not least because the lack of commute will mean more time for family life. Plus, if employees aren’t required to attend the office as often or at all, this also gives them more choice over where they live. This in turn could improve employee satisfaction, especially for those who have previously been tied to expensive commuter zones.
Social Distanced Teams
There’s a certain albeit unavoidable irony that in the current climate, teams are more physically distanced from each other than ever before. The key for businesses is retaining that sense of togetherness in terms of shared ideas, goals and company ethos. After all, regardless of how spread out your employees are they are still part of the same team.
Communication is essential here and it shouldn’t be all done through emails or instant messaging either. Teams still need to have real conversions to allow for creativity not to mention clarity to be able to flourish. So, while the likes of Slack and Monday are becoming a primary communication tool, they can’t replace face to face talks even if it has to be done digitally through a Zoom call for now.
Pre-pandemic figures also suggested that 20% of remote workers are subject to loneliness. As we move forward, it’s important to remember to check in with other team members regularly especially when going into the office is not an option.
Richard Yeo at Advanced Commercial Interiors spearheaded an ingenious idea to combat the need for teamwork and the potential for loneliness when remote working early on. Using a randomiser generator, employees will be nominated to call another member of the team and chat about the project and have a general check-in.
Yeo explained: “It sounds really simple, but it helps mimic the unplanned conversations you’d naturally have by the watercooler. All we ask for is a minimum of 10 minutes on the phone. We’ve found it can spark some really amazing collaborative ideas we would have never been able to generate otherwise. Plus, it helps reduce feelings of isolation too.”
Traditionally when a new employee starts a job, they get given a tour of the building and introduced to every member of staff. This obviously can’t happen at the moment, and if remote working becomes the norm it could even be outlawed altogether. Though, onboarding isn’t a step you can skip especially when the employee needs to know who they are working with and what will be expected from them.
Businesses have since been creating digital packages for employees to be able to download everything they need to know. Matt Cooke at Filter Services also goes one step further by scheduling a group Zoom call with employees on their first day.
Citing the need for retaining hierarchy within the business, they told us: “All employees need to know where they fit into the jigsaw that is your business. Even though we can’t meet face to face, they still need that sense of purpose to be instilled in them. Plus, they need to know who they are reporting too and who their colleagues are, especially without a visible managerial presence in the office.”
More Thoughtful Social Media Use
While social media was once an optional way of communicating with your customers, now it may be one of the only ways if your physical location remains closed. Rather than call or email, people are quick to check a company out on the likes of Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. In response, businesses are going to have to put more thought into their social content, especially as more eyes will be viewing it.
James Lewin from Bring Me Drink, a drinks delivery service, agrees saying: “People are confused and looking for answers. They want to be able to support businesses, but it’s tough when restrictions are ever-changing. That’s why it’s so important to send a clear message out through your social media. Keep people updated so that you don’t drop off their radar.”
There are so many ways to sell what it is you do on social media. From user-generated content to behind the scenes snippets. Businesses need to take the time to understand their social media audiences. It’s not enough to post and hope for the best anymore, especially as the competition continues to grow. Therefore, more savvy social media use is certainly a future trend all businesses need to prepare for.
We know that communication is one of the biggest parts of a business’s success. With that in mind, knowing which platforms to use is important. As mentioned before the use of Zoom and their own growth has been exponential. But evaluating which platforms are right for your business will be a huge part of your remote working success.
After careful considerations and even leaning on your teams for input into, the decision-making process should be a lot easier. By finding out which platforms best suit the needs of your team or even an individual, you’re much more likely to get an efficient level of harmony and synergism.
We spoke to Andy King from Jamjar about how he’s been working to improve their communications. He explained that: “when we first went remote, we had been in talks about the best options to keep communications constant and efficient. After sourcing a list of ideal platforms, we tried them all. This meant that we could figure out which had the best features for us and how we could use those features to our advantage. In the end, we decided on Slack, Zoom and a tailored spreadsheet accessible by everyone for tasks and management of projects.”
To Sum Up
Nobody can ever be quite sure what the future holds, and 2020 in itself has been proof of this. That being said, communication is integral to running a business, so it pays to take note of where things are heading.
The focus should always remain on collaboration even though this now needs to be done virtually. The challenge for businesses will be making it seem like those spread far apart are actually in the same room in terms of the quality they ultimately deliver to clients.